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Check Out Nisha Btesh’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nisha Btesh.

Hi Nisha, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
In 2014, during my senior year at the Academy of Art University as a Textile Design Major, I collaborated with a fellow design student to create a Women’s Wear collection that successfully walked the runway at New York Fashion Week. I mean WHAT?! I hadn’t even graduated…

Wrapping up my senior year, it felt wrong to be applying for Textile Design jobs having already showcased my prints and designs at the highest level any Designer could ever hope for but I did it anyway because that’s what everyone else was doing and so I thought I should too. I know, I know so shoot me for being honest!

As job offers came in, it became blindingly clear to me in today’s digital world being a Textile Designer meant generating repeat after repeat behind a computer screen hoping to satisfy your boss’s vision. But what about MY vision?! I wanted to get messy and work with my hands!

My family saw me struggling and encouraged me to shift and try a more entrepreneurial route and that’s exactly what I did. In 2015 I turned the back of my family’s business warehouse into my very own art studio and in 2016, I launched Nisha Btesh Living, or NBL, where I created boutique textiles for the bed, body, and home. It was then that I experimented first hand with what goes into making different products, what printing techniques worked well and which ones totally sucked and most importantly what it takes to get a business off the ground cuz sister, IT AINT EASY!

I taught myself how to create a website, grow my social following, and get my product stocked in local storefronts BUT I wasn’t making enough money to sustain my passion and shut it all down in 2017.

Since then, I’ve become obsessed with following Artists who were successfully turning their passions into paychecks, and the idea for Hola Gwapa was born.

As an entrepreneur, you’re faced with challenges, opportunities, dead ends, and open doors. The important thing for me was learning how to pivot. You have to be your own best friend and your harshest critic. In the end, your mentality is everything.

Hola Gwapa started as an Instagram account. I knew I wanted to feature Artists via dedicated posts and takeover stories 1. To give them the exposure and community that I wish I had had with NBL and 2. I really genuinely wanted to figure out how they were doing it.

Were they working side jobs? Were they waking up at 5 am to answer emails and update their websites? What materials were they using? Were their studios REALLY as “Pinterest-perfect” as they posted? I mean come on! What was their secret sauce? I was totally drinking the Koolaid, like chugging it actually. But I knew that if I was eagerly seeking this information out, then there must be tons of other Artists out there in my same position who would benefit from the information as well… and boy was I right!

Hola Gwapa is now an online community of over 10 thousand movers and makers from all over the world. It’s also a blog, brand, online shop and most recently a podcast. It is and has always been my ultimate mission to celebrate and support female creatives and that’s what I will always continue to aspire to do for this community!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
No, it has definitely not been a smooth road. In fact, every day faces new challenges, I’ve had to empower myself to overcome. Everything from learning the ins and outs of buying social ads to learning how to set up and execute a professional level at home photoshoot – keeping my website current with new apps and integrations to developing and launching a complete small batch slow fashion brand from the ground up. I’ve had to dig deep and do a lot of self-teaching (and self-coaching) to not only keep going but to stay inspired throughout the process and remember my why. When your mission is strong (mine is to continue using my platform to connect, celebrate and support female creatives) then you will always find yourself of becoming more capable and able to push through the struggles you’re bound to face along the way.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
As you probably already know supporting female creatives is my passion, mission & purpose, so I’m extremely proud to announce The Gwapa Gal Shop and finally share a little bit more about what it is, how it works and exactly why I’ve decided to launch it.

The Gwapa Gal Shop is a very special section of The Gwapa Shop you already know and love. Everything carried in this section of the site is FEMALE OWNED & ARTIST MADE by the movers & the makers in this very community.

But just in case you’ve been living under a rock… I want to start by providing a little more context. Hola Gwapa is an online community of movers and makers. It is and has always been my ultimate mission to celebrate and support female creatives, and up until this point have been able to do so through our Instagram, Artist Features and The Hola Gwapa Podcast.

As 2021 approached, I was compelled to do even more, if you can imagine that. My goal was to continue this effort of lifting others by adding one new female-owned and operated brand to The Gwapa Shop each month to be featured alongside my own brand. But the overwhelming response of this community and the incredibly talented women interested in being featured each month has truly BLOWN. ME. AWAY. In January, we featured 2 Gwapa Gals, in February we featured four and in March and April, I’m SO proud to share that we’ve continued to exceed our goal and have featured six amazing Gwapa Gals on the shop. We already have such a wide variety of female-owned brands. Everything from beauty and wellness to home, apparel and accessories and we’re just getting started. As the shop evolves and takes on a life of its own shaped by women like YOU, I’m beyond excited to continue watching this momentum build and vow to do everything in my power to promote all these fabulous new makers via the shop, social media, newsletters, other marketing efforts and more.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
That I have a full-time job and Hola Gwapa is actually my side hustle so all the hours and time spent bringing this vision to life happens after work and on the weekends. It’s a LOT to juggle so staying organized and on top of my schedule is instrumental to making progress and managing my workload. HOWEVER, it is possible and highly recommends starting your side hustle while you’re working a full-time or part-time job. Having the financial freedom of a steady salary to depend on allows me to take risks freely with my side hustle I wouldn’t be able to do if it was my main source of income.

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